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Disability Inclusion in Climate Action: new guide published

Posted on: Monday, October 18th, 2021

Today, BOND’s Disability and Development Group (DDG) launches a new climate briefing, which urges all NGOs to ensure a disability-inclusive approach to climate action.

An estimated 20% of people most vulnerable to climate change are persons with disabilities. Yet they are rarely included in climate action. Despite being among some of the most impacted by climate change, persons with disabilities, and their representative organisations, are frequently excluded from the decision-making processes and plans to address climate change.

“CBM is committed to fostering a changed mind-set about inclusion in climate action. This briefing paper aims to raise awareness of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on persons with disabilities while offering practical actions to the UK Government as they take on the COP Presidency to ensure people with disabilities, and their representative organisations, are not left behind in this critical issue for the planet.” – Mark Barrell, Head of Advocacy and Influencing CBM UK

“The effects of climate change were socially distributed and followed the exact same pattern of pre-existing inequalities in societies that discriminated against persons with disabilities in multiple and intersectional ways. Solutions to climate change must address the root causes of social injustice, discrimination and inequality affecting persons with disabilities” – Deborah Iyute Oyuu, Programme Officer at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda

The Disability Inclusion in UK Climate Action briefing (open link in new tab) , written by Mark Barrell (Head of Advocacy and Influencing, CBM UK), and Kara Weekes (Project Officer, CBM UK) highlights the huge potential for impact if the UK Government, and its relevant entities, lead by example to break down barriers and implement a disability-inclusive rights-based approach to climate action.

The briefing is endorsed by Climate Action Network UK (CAN UK), with input from regional and international Organisations of Persons with Disability, including The European Disability Forum. It provides evidence of the inequalities faced by persons with disabilities, such as the fact that they experience poverty at more than twice the rate of persons without disabilities.

The paper sets out the following recommendations to the Government, and all those involved in climate action:

  1. Promote a disability-inclusive rights-based approach to climate action.
  2. Apply an intersectional lens to domestic and international climate action.
  3. Ensure there are mechanisms in place for the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.
  4. Ensure that the UK’s International Climate Finance is directed towards mitigation and adaptation actions that are inclusive of, and accessible to, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.
  5. Integrate the full inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities into domestic climate change action plans, communications and commitments.
  6. Ensure all UK climate change-focused communications, events/multilateral fora (both in-person and online) are accessible to persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.
  7. Catalyse a just transition to a future of work that contributes to sustainable development.

CBM at COP26

For more than 110 years CBM has been reaching out to those others leave behind, including people with and at-risk of disabilities. We’ll be joining Disability Movement and civil society partners at COP26, the UN climate conference in Glasgow, to ensure that disability inclusion is not overlooked. 

COP26 is the annual UN climate conference, or “Conference of Parties”. Leaders of the 197 countries that are part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Glasgow from 31 October–12 November 2021. They will discuss how the world’s nations can best keep global temperature rises below dangerous levels and prevent the climate crisis from causing even greater damage for the world’s poorest people. They will negotiate ongoing commitments to tackle what is one of the greatest issues this planet faces.

As well as aiming to influence the negotiations, CBM UK will be joining the wider civil society discussion to promote inclusion and offer practical suggestion for how climate adaptation and resilience measures can be more inclusive and incorporate proper consideration of mental wellbeing.

Read the Disability Inclusion in UK Climate Action briefing (open link in new tab).

Image: CBM Zimbabwe Emergency Response Team member Allen with Ezekiel, 62, in his new wheelchair at his home in a food-insecure area of Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. ©CBM/Hayduk